The Story of the Zoo

The Baltimore Zoo was created by act of the Maryland state legislature on April 7, 1876. (Its name was changed to The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore in 2004.) The Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the United States, behind Philadelphia (1873) and Cincinnati (1874). It actually had its beginnings as early as 1862, when the first of many citizens gave animals (the first being 4 swans) to Druid Hill Park for public display.

Today the 135-plus acre zoo property is owned by the City of Baltimore and leased to the State of Maryland. The Maryland Zoological Society, established in 1967, operates the Zoo under a lease agreement with the state. The Zoological Society assumed full management of the Zoo in 1984. Currently, the Zoo’s animal collection encompasses birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, representing nearly 200 species.

Animals are displayed in natural settings replicating their native habitats. The Zoo’s new state-of-the-art exhibit for African penguins, Penguin Coast, received the AZA 2016 Award for Exhibit Design. The Maryland Zoo is home currently to over 80 endangered penguins, and proud to be the largest and most successful African penguin breeding colony in all of North America.

Polar Bear Watch, the Zoo’s exhibit about life on the edge of the Arctic, features an authentic Tundra Buggy® from which visitors can watch polar bears Neva and Amelia Gray cavort in and out of the water. Visitors learn about animals in their own backyard, as well as those in more exotic locales, when they take a trek through the Maryland Wilderness, home to the award-winning Children’s Zoo, or embark on an African Journey.